A festival almost as synonymous with Ireland and its culture as St Patrick’s Day, the annual Puck Fair celebrations provide a unique draw not only to those visiting our shores from far off climes, but also to Irish natives living abroad, who use the annual event as a fun and exciting opportunity to return home. This year is no different, with thousands of Irish emigrants planning a visit to the green, green grass of home this summer to coincide with the 3-day festival, which takes place from the 10th to the 12th of August.
The 2017 festivities kicked off on Friday last (7th July 2017) with a launch event at The Forge in Killorglin, with guests keen to get a taster of the exciting line-up in store for this year’s festivities. One of the VIP guests on the evening was this year’s Queen of Puck Fair, Caitlin Horgan of Scoil Mhuire in Killorglin. Caitlin was joined on the night by her Lady-in-Waiting, Lily-Sue Eyers, a pupil of Douglas National School on the outskirts of Killorglin and John Bowe of Diageo, one of the festival’s key sponsors.
Monika Dukarska, 2009 and 2016 World Coastal Rowing Champion, this year’s festival ambassador, a Polish native who moved to Co. Kerry at the age of 16, was competing in Switzerland during the launch proceedings, but was nonetheless present on the night with the help of a special video message. Speaking on screen during the launch, Monika explained the unusual connection that she has to legendary goat tales. Referring to a historical story from her hometown on Poznań, she said: “The story goes that in the late 1500s, thunder hit the town and the tower was destroyed along with the town clock. To celebrate the refurbishment of the town hall, the mayor organised a gathering. A young cook unfortunately burnt the celebratory roast dinner and instead of admitting his incompetence, he found two wild goats in a nearby field. However, he didn’t manage to roast them as they fled the scene and climbed on top of the town hall and the clock. Although the goats were not as heroic as Puck, they provided great entertainment for those gathered in Poznań that day!” While Monika has a busy summer of competition ahead of her, she is quick to point out one important fact: “The good news is that the month of August is quieter than the rest of the summer, meaning I’ll be back for Puck!”
Long-running Chairman of Puck Fair Declan Mangan, having worked as Chairman of the voluntary committee for 30 years, was quick to point out why he is hugely proud of his important role, saying: “There’s a reason I keep returning to this post year in, year out – it’s a hugely important part of Killorglin’s past and present and it is a great deal of fun. I get such a thrill out of seeing visitors flock to the town each August to witness the crowning of King Puck and to see what our beautiful town has to offer. It brings locals and tourists together and highlights Killorglin as an important focal point within the Irish tourism industry.”
Commenting on what visitors can expect, Mr. Mangan added; “Highlights of this year’s Puck Fair festival include musical entertainment on the town square stage to be provided by Brass & Co (Thursday 10th August), The Elvis Spectacular Show (Friday 11th August) and The Ultimate Garth Brooks Experience (Saturday 12th August).
There will also be a wide range of children’s entertainment taking place in the town across the three days of the festival as well as market stalls, street performances and a host of activities for all the family. Information and updates on this can be found at www.puckfair.ie in the lead up to the festival and we look forward to having you all there.”
Now over 400 years old, Puck Fair is one of Ireland’s most ancient traditional celebrations, reportedly dating back to 1613 when King James I issued a charter that granted legal status to the existing fair in Killorglin at that time. The festival revolves around the coronation of a wild mountain goat, fondly and famously known as ‘King Puck’, who is crowned by The Queen of Puck; traditionally a young girl from a local primary school. There are many legends surrounding the origins of the Fair, with one particularly popular tale suggesting that it began during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland in the 17th century, when a wild goat broke away from its herd to warn the people of Killorglin of an impending attack.
While the foundations of the historical Fair have remained for centuries, the festival itself has changed and evolved over the years to create the version of Puck Fair as we know it today. From yearly rituals such as the Horse Fair and the all-important public crowning of King Puck to street performances, musical acts and endless children’s entertainment, people of all ages visiting the charming Kerry town at this special time of year can expect a truly memorable experience.
For pictures and live updates, follow the conversation with #BackForPuck, check out www.facebook.com/puckfair or twitter @puck_fair and visit YouTube to view puckfairofficial videos.